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Thread: ZF 5HP18 - Valve Body Gone or Rebuilt Transmission Time?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Muskegon, MI

    Default ZF 5HP18 - Valve Body Gone or Rebuilt Transmission Time?

    I'm looking for diagnosis opinions from those who may have experienced this. Hoping the final info will also help others in the future.

    I'm fortunate to live only 30 minutes from Kirt Koeller at Auto Sports Unlimited. I've emailed them for their advice and will likely get what I need from them. If you need their info: www.autosportsunlimited.com; (800) 624-3876; email: info@asumi.org.

    Car: 1994 530i, auto transmission (ZF 5HP18), 200,000+ miles.

    Recently finished a lot of engine and suspension work, including new engine and transmission mounts (both were quite bad). Following this, the transmission didn't lock into park properly. Made a rattle, "slow chatter" noise when shifted into Park with the engine running. Seemed to engage better when I would shift all the way to the lowest gear and then up to park.

    Take off was extremely sluggish in normal Drive. Switched to sport mode (4th gear instead of D) car seemed to run normally.

    Following this, I changed the filter and fluid. I still experienced the sluggish take off and almost a stalling in 1st gear. Used sport mode and the car ran fine and the gears shifted smooth. Car was parked for 8-10 hours and when I started it and tried to shift into gear, it would not engage in Drive. The shifter would easily move from Park to the last gear, but would not engage in Drive. It would still engage in Reverse in the R position as well as now in the 2nd gear position, but would not engage in Drive in any gear. Park didnt seem to grab and hold.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Oldham, England


    If it was fine before you changed the mounts, I'd suggest that changing the tranny position is putting the shifter cable under tension. Result being you may be selecting 'half gears'. There is an adjustment at the tranny end. I'd start by releasing the inner cable (use two spanners or you will bend the inner). Then move the lever by hand so you know its fully forward (park). Test if it holds. Then move the lever backwards and forwards counting the 'clicks' so you know it has free travel and is selecting all gears easily. If you are going to test with the engine running, put somebody you trust in the car with their foot hard on the brake. You may have found the solution only to have the car run over you
    Oct '00 E46 330i. Feb '92 525i (departed)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Sydney, Australia



    Yea... exactly what whiskey said

    Sounds like you've managed to get it into limp mode though. Be more careful with your testing. The adjustments (procedures) are important on a BMW... see resources like

    http://www.jonkensy.com/DTA/ETM/ for electrical stuff

    and find an online BMW TIS for the proper installation procedure*

    * and for sure, follow the fluid fill procedure exactly. EXACTLY, though you can use an infra-red thermometer on the pan, instead of connecting up the BMW Diagnostic Information System.

    Join the Aussie
    540i LE yahoo forum

    08/88 535i e34 M30+miller MAF, 'stiens, tints & teeth!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Chicago, Il. U.S.A.


    ^^ For sure the shift cable is loose and/or out of adjustment
    "The gas pedal wouldn't go to the floor if it weren't meant to be there"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Muskegon, MI

    Default Problem Solved

    I have a BROKEN shifter cable. I finally got the chance to dive into this issue and discovered the cable was detached or broken off of the metal shaft that is bolted to the selector lever on the transmission. You guys were correct...Thanks!

    Off to order up a new one and she should be back on the road.

    Last edited by artguy; 11-14-2010 at 07:08 PM.

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